Amish widow Lizzie Fisher loves her seven stepchildren as though they were her own. But her brother-in-law’s unexpected arrival on the farm has her worried. After all, Zachariah Fisher is the true heir of the property. And he could decide to send her away from her family and her home of two years. Lizzie is determined to show the handsome farmer that her physical challenges don’t prevent her from being a hard worker or a loving mother. For she finds herself losing her heart to Zack and hopes he’ll see they’re meant to be a family forever.
Lancaster Courtships: Life and love in Amish country
EDIT: since writing this review, I have indeed found an Amish fiction author whose books I enjoy: Patricia Davids
I’ve been thinking of trying an Amish romance for a while now, and so when a whole series of them popped up for review, I grabbed the first one I saw. The me of a few years ago would have thought I’d gone mad: a Christian book about seven children!
The Amish Mother is an interesting insight into Amish life for someone like me, who lives about sixteen-thousand kilometres from the nearest Amish person. However, this is a book that basically has no plot, and relies on nonstop scenes of the heroine misunderstanding people and running off to cry in order to create conflict.
The best thing about this book is that the author clearly knows what she’s talking about. I believe she lives in a community where there are constantly Amish people about, so you couldn’t get a better writer to cover their way of life.
Our heroine is only nineteen, has a disability which causes many people to think she can’t cope, and is running a farm while raising her seven stepchildren on her own. Our hero turns up to take the farm out from under her (which doesn’t exactly making him endearing at first!) and then of course they fall in love with each other, with lots of misunderstandings along the way.
There just wasn’t enough time devoted to the relationship in this one. The hero comes and goes from the book, back and forth from his own home in Ohio, and the heroine spends all her time admiring the children and cooking, and baking, and cooking and baking. More page time was devoted to the ingredients she put in her muffins than to a major tragedy that happens to her (and for some reason this tragedy is never mentioned to the hero)!
I’m still not sure why the hero and the rest of his family had never met the heroine (who was married to his brother) or the children before, or why they didn’t know the first husband had died! Especially if they’re supposed to be such a close family!
There are multiple widows and widowers in this book, and in every situation the same thing happens: the realisation that the second spouse is “better” than the first. I hate this trope! Why does the first – dead – spouse always have to be made out as not as good? Why can a person not love one person, and then love another? And then towards the end the good man dead husband was suddenly, inexplicably made out to be a bad father:
The boys love Zack, Lizzie thought. He was better with them than their father had been. After Ruth’s death, Abraham had grieved too deeply to pay much attention to his children.
I struggled with the lack of plot. It led to so much padding to make up the word count, which started to make the characters look a little… unintelligent. For example, this conversation where heroine asks hero if he wants apple or chocolate cake:
“Apple chocolate?” She furrowed her brow as she thought. “I haven’t heard of that recipe.”
“Both,” his mother explained.
Before Lizzie could question her, Esther spoke up. “He wants both apple and chocolate cake. He’s telling you he likes both kinds.”
Lizzie examined the man next to her, enjoying the sight of his stunning good looks. “I can make both.”
These characters eat so much! I felt ill reading about it! Pre-breakfast muffins, followed by bacon and potatoes and toast and everything else in the house for breakfast, followed by a few big slabs of cake for morning tea, followed by fried chicken for lunch. They ate more in half a day than I do in a week, and all of it was full of fat!
I must admit I struggle with the mentality of this lifestyle. Girls marry as teens and then have a baby a year for decades, and yet people use all other modern medicine (including – in this book – chemotherapy, antidepressants and painkillers), travel in cars when they need to, play baseball, and eat pizza and hamburgers?
The only aspects of the past they seem to stick to are the ones that make life terribly hard for women.
If you’re a hardcore fan of Amish romances, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. I think I’m going to give one more Amish book a go before calling it a day, but this was far from my favourite read of the year. I started out wanting to enjoy it more, but it stopped working for me pretty much right at the start.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.